Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Anticipation

It is that time of year when we are all chugging coffee, icing our wrists, and stretching our aching backs as we prepare to take those lovely finals. As we draw our learning days to a close (at least for a few weeks...), we also anticipate Christmas. However, for some reason, between re-taking the ACT and studying for finals, my December hasn't been super Christmassy. This year, I am doing my shopping last minute, have realized  I hate most Christmas music, and haven't had time to see even one Christmas movie! But I have been reading the Old Testament for a Bible class.

All semester I have been reading about how God called, made a covenant with , and has been faithful to His people, despite all their unfaithfulness. Now I have come to the prophets. They tell of judgement to come through the exile, but also of a Messiah who will fulfill God's promises and renew the nations. Then, this morning, I woke up to my sister playing Christmas carols. All the sudden, I was filled with the same anticipation as the Jews had. The Messiah! He is coming! Now is the time!

So, really, this year I am celebrating Christmas the most because I fully understand it. God's story does not begin in the stable, it climaxes there. All my previous Christmases I have missed the thousand years of waiting that came before this little baby's birth. Jesus coming into the world was God fulfilling His final promise, and I can't wait to celebrate!

"And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD." -- Hosea 3:19-20

"And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

'Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'"-- Luke 2:10-14

Friday, November 1, 2013

Rejoice

Rejection is painful. It burns in my eyes, heart, and pit of my stomach. It makes me want to change myself to become worthy. Ruining my day. Making me want to run away. Filling me with anger, hurt, and confusion.

Rejection makes me want to curl up in a cave of fear and isolation. It makes me forget the overflowing joy my life has.

I wrote a post a while back about God having only the best planned for me. I have to remind myself of this truth in times of rejection. I have to know that the absences causing me pain are NOT God rejecting me, but Him protecting me. It hurts at the moment, but I know God does not withhold any good thing from His children. He loves me and has blessed me in immeasurable ways, which He graciously magnifies in times of brokenness. 

When we are rejected, it is tempting to retreat and mull it over. Which to some extent it is good to take times like these to evaluate where you're dependence lies: In the opinions of a valued friend or in the opinion of God. Yet, we must force ourselves to go on with life. Just because one person abandoned you, does not mean you are abandoned. There are most likely many people who love you and value who you are without alterations. So in this time of rejection, choose to rejoice. Rejoice in the joy and fun and love that your life is full of. Look forward to opportunities that are available, not lost. And, most importantly, know that God has given you acceptance that outweighs all the rejection this world can throw at us.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The God Who Suffers With Us

I'm learning more each day that I am not called to live the American Dream. For most of my life I have wanted nothing more to get married, have kids, build a house with a picket fence, and go through life as a nice little Christian girl. I want to have a good reputation. I want to be looked up to. I want to be needed. And I want to throw Jesus in, although He won't really need to save me because I'll be perfect.

This is probably why I am so devastated when things don't go on perfectly. This is why I have been trying to avoid real life and stay in my little bubble. Yet God is popping my bubble and throwing struggle and suffering right in my face till I run away terrified because this is movie material, not my life.

As I flea, blinded by tears, I bump into my Father "It is scary isn't it?" He asks, "But this is life. This is what real people go through and I didn't call you to hide from it, I called you to meet it head on." Jesus' life wasn't behind a picket fence, it was on the front lines fighting for souls-- this is how He calls us to live.

This life is a struggle. There is a battle going on between the flesh and the spirit. Christ secured victory in the cross and we are experiencing His grace daily in His peace, however, this world is still in turmoil and will be until Christ returns to re-create it. We need to stop running away from affliction. During His time on earth, Christ willingly took on the suffering of others, meeting with those in the poorest conditions physically, emotionally, and spiritually. People who many of us would just ignore because they are "too much" and make us uncomfortable. But Jesus loved them and took on their pain and sin, bearing it on the cross. Christ suffered more than any of us, as imitators of Him we must not expect anything less than suffering. This starts when we stop beautifying the cross and understand it as the agony that it was. Jesus was beaten and slain by His countrymen, He was denied and abandoned by friends, He had His legitimacy questioned,  and His Father rejected Him. He suffered these things in love.

It would be easy for me to just avoid the human struggle I am witnessing. It would be easy to relax in the comfort of my happy home. To tuck myself away to build my good little image that is free of scars and weathering. But if I do, I can't confess to Christ that I really, really need Him and that, in actuality, I am doing a horrible job of being perfect. And if I hide away, I will miss an opportunity to join my Savior in loving hard people who need Him just as much as I do.

The picket fence looks nice, I really do love to hear those cheery kids giggle, and my husband kissing my cheek as I bake a pie sounds perfect. But I would much rather be where Jesus is.

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. For His sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ."-- Philippians 3:7-8

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lonely

A year and a half ago, my family went on a trip for spring break before my sister left for South Africa for nine months.

It was pretty much a week long goodbye.









A lot has happened since those days by the sea. I acknowledged half-way through Mal's absence that neither of us would ever be the same after she came back.

In a way, I was right. God did a lot of molding in our hearts in very different ways. It took weeks just to figure out how to live together again and months to reclaim the honesty we had as sisters.  I'm not going to lie, it hurt to be shaped. I am thankful, but He ripped a lot of things away from me in those months and I have never been so lonely.

Lonely:: Alone, or in want of company; forsaken. 

Forsaken. Mallory was not the only thing I lost during those months. Several other people close to me also seemed to drift away and, for the first time in my life, I was forced to define myself by something other than the people around me.

One person did not forsake me however. His name was Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, He drew ever so close when I called out in loneliness. He offered me His love as an identifier and His presence as a refuge. 

For nine months I was pounded down with aloneness, yet I have felt no sweeter companionship. God showed me who He was and who I was in Him. 
My sister is home now and lovingly sharing her life with me, but not everything lost has been returned. Some things God took away and kept. When they retreat it hurts, but God remains my lover in loneliness and is pleased to fill my emptiness with a passion for Him.



"For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, 'Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'"-- Isaiah 41:13


Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Mundane

I never thought it would happen to me. "Senioritis?" I thought, "Never! I am much to passionate to just live my life without any emotion poured into it!”

I spoke too soon.

This year has given me an overall "blah" feeling. Stress and life have stripped me of a lot of my enthusiasm. I have learned so much and I would not trade the last year for anything. Through it I have grown up  and acquired a new perspective on who I am and who God is. Also, a lot of really great things have happened and I have had moments of pure bliss! But, part of being a grown up is being rational. It is learning to go through every day without a burning desire to study or go to work or reach out to others.

These days, I go through the motions but I am never fulfilled.

Yet a couple weeks ago, I did some research for a school project and came across this quote by John Piper, “Our lives are shot through with longings. Fasting is an expression of our conviction that it is sin to be satisfied with ourselves as we are.”

Shot through with longings. Shot through with realizing nothing on this earth will ever fulfill me. Shot through with the awareness that I don’t fit here. 

This world, even at its best, fails to fulfill me. Thankfully, it is not supposed to.


On this earth, I am separated from my Creator. I can experience the little blessings of catching fireflies, finishing a journal, holding my nephew's hand, listening to Philip Philips, gazing at the stars, experiencing a live concert, riding a bike at sunset, laughing till my stomach hurts, drinking a chai latte, running in the pouring rain, eating a really good piece of cheesecake, and feeling the first snowflake of winter on my tongue. In these things, we often say we “get a taste of heaven.” But a taste can’t fulfill our desire. Our bridegroom has not yet come. To be satisfied in these things would be like showing a bride a picture of her husband-to-be and saying, “Okay. You got a taste of him. Can we cancel the wedding and the rest of your lives together?” The poor girl would say, “Heck, no! I'm marrying this man!”

Life can be beautiful. But sometimes it is unappealing (Notice that reading about quantum mechanics wasn’t on my list of blessings!). But, in these times, we know that we are engaged to be married. We know, before long, we will finally be able to have a relationship with God that has no restrictions. We will be with Him, really with Him, for eternity.

In this we find joy to face the mundane. We find a gleam of hope to set our eyes on, a reason to smile-- to beam!—because our bride groom is coming.

“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” – John 16:22

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fun Facts Friday

1. Obama singing "Boyfriend." I found this a long time ago and I think it is hilarious. Maybe it is disrespectful to laugh... but when I rediscovered it I was so excited! "Swag, swag, on you!"

3. Astronomy... God is so huge! At times I regret doing this class, science is not my thing and this is not necessarily the easiest science class out there. But it talks so much about God's glory that at least I'm praising Him in my lack of understanding!

4. I get to go to Northwestern tomorrow! 


I'm really excited to see what the college is like with students there! Plus it will be nice to get away for the day and I miss football like crazy!

5. I really like mashups! They are pretty cool, you can appreciate your favorite songs in a new way! And they kinda mess with my brain, which I think is fun :)
A few good ones:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI0V6dvlMqk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-lggR_OVdE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzjHNG9XbEc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twhhyyWLwkk

6. One Direction pens! I have pens with a boyband on them, plus they sparkle. Is that cool or what?

7. I have eaten astronaut ice cream! I will say it I am still partial to the real thing... But if you think of it as something besides ice cream it is pretty tasty! Although a good reason not to become an astronaut...

Looking back... I apologize for the Bieber and One Direction overload...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Do You Remember?

I love memories. I didn't plaster my closet door with pictures because I like to cut and tape things. I did it because I love to remember those good moments in life when you realize you have it good.

Then there's that moment when a memory doesn't come with warm fuzzies, but an ache because it is based on the unchangeable past. Like the fact that I have tried to relive my childhood memories in un-opportune times. The debates I held onto, later to realize I was wrong and it is too late to reassure my opponent I'm not an idiot. The regret of clicking “send” and wishing you could erase it (I love the “revert to draft” button). The question that should have been left unasked. Those things that, looking back on, you realize make you look flirtatious, ignorant, and sinful.

The memories I put on my closet door are lovely, but haven't captured those ugly moments I keep locked up. I weed out the humiliating so I can create a picture of my life that I like. And, most of the time, I believe that is the life I'm living; when, in reality, my life is full of mistakes and character flops.

Yet, what makes me classify them as worth hiding now, when, at one time, I liked the idea so much that I did it?
Because I have learned since their occurrence that such actions are not consistent to how I want to be portrayed to the world. Maybe that realization came years later-- I used to acknowledge a certain memory as amusing, now I regret it. Or maybe it hits instantaneously. Whatever it is, the reason some past words or actions are disconcerting is because I have learned through them. I have been humiliated by that action once and have decided it would be bad to repeat it. Not to say that I don't repeat my mistakes. I repeat them again and again, that is why I hate them! But through these uncomfortable memories... I learn.

However, this does not mean someone didn't witness such actions and might be judging me right now because of them. That is the hard part. Because they don’t know whether or not I regret it, they just know I did it. So the thoughts flood in that no one will love someone who said this or acted that way. I reduce my value because I messed up and people saw it. Not that this is all bad—it is good to be humbled every now and then, but we must remember it is the past and can’t define us now (excuse the cliché!).

 “Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.” –Psalm 25:7



Friday, August 30, 2013

Fun Facts Friday

1. God is full of little blessings. He is full of huge blessings too, but I have just been realizing how many little things He has been preparing me or my family for or has put in my life that are so random but amazing at the same time. For one, the Bible professor for my online class is married to the woman who designed Northwestern's technical writing degree. Now, I don't really want to do technical writing, but I do prefer non-fiction. So this woman e-mailed me today and explained the professional writing major to me. How awesome is that! Maybe this is just something that happens, I mean it is a small college, but it has really encouraged me.

2. Carrie Hope Fletcher and I are kindred spirits. I have been watching her videos every now and then for the past couple weeks, but it wasn't until a few days ago that I stumbled upon this one.
I got pretty excited because I did this exact. same. thing! Before I even knew she made this! We had pretty much the same reasons to. It is a helpful reminder for when I am tempted to say I have a horrible life. I look at my door, read the words, and remember how truly blessed I actually am and how lovely life is simply because God loves me.


3. Miley Cyrus. Yeah, I know, all this attention is exactly what she wanted. I didn't actually watch her VMA performance, but I've seen her music video (I don't recommend watching either, it isn't exactly "whatever is pure") and I have read a few things about how shocked and saddened people were while witnessing Miley's downfall. But I think this post describes the problem best. It isn't that we live in a culture that loves to be shocked, or sells sex, or values freedom to the extent that unbridled perversion is tolerated (although these things are true)-- the problem is sin. Sin that enslaves and is only defeated through the cross. Miley's performance was a sin fest that gives us a clear representation of what life is like without Christ.

4. Have I introduced you to the Vamps yet?

5. DANCE ACADEMY SEASON 3! Sorry for the all caps.... But I'm so excited!

6. Tears. This is an old video, maybe you saw it already, I didn't know it even existed much less went viral. But it almost made me cry, sooooo...
I came across it as I was discovering Carrie Hope Fletcher (his sister) and his band McFly, which I knew existed because the Vamps covered their song.

So really, the moral of the story is that half of my fun facts are interconnected through all these British people who know each other. Exciting! and... pick it up America! Dance Academy comes from Australia, so all you've provided is Miley Cyrus. Nice.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Responsibility in Writing

Up until a week ago, only one person read my blog. I sort of liked it that way. I could write and share pictures and recipes and I was the only person who saw it. I could express myself freely, without being afraid of saying anything embarrassing. But this private expression slowly became insufficient. The more I invested in my little corner of the internet, the more I wanted people to see my contribution. So I took a terrifying step and shared the link on my facebook.

To be honest, I probably have about the same amount of readers as before, but the idea that now people have access to my thoughts adds a lot of pressure.

 I have lost freedom because I have this goal for my writing. Writing is what I want to do for the rest of my life but, unlike most aspiring writers, I do not want to write novels or short stories, I want to compose non-fiction. But, unlike most non-fiction writers, I don't really want to write for businesses... Writing for the back of coffee cans is very unappealing to me. I desire to write life-shaping truth. Not that fiction can't contain truth or business writing isn't important-- I couldn't disagree more! I love a good book with a thought provoking theme and recognize the importance of good writers in every field of work. Yet I feel God has given me a desire to spread the message of the gospel in writing. He has called us all to share the gospel and live entirely for Him, I think for me, this calling is specifically and primarily in writing. Not to say this won't change. I don't think seventeen years is enough time to determine the specific calling for the next seventy years. However, despite college advisers advertising the masses of money that can be made by technical writers and the benefit of such people on society, I have remained stubborn on this point. I keep coming back to my one goal of declaring truth. So, until I feel God is pulling me in another direction, I will try to actively communicate truth in an attractive, effective way without being manipulative.

Before I shared my blog, I was trying to communicate truth, but no one would know if I messed up somewhere. Today, someone would know. This adds a lot of pressure. Even though I know no one will probably take me as much of an authority, I am terrified one of my "big discoveries" will not be in line with the Word of God or will be misunderstood due to sloppy writing. Ever since I let people know I write, I have been hesitant to do so. Yet I have this goal... This desire to glorify God by using my passion to share the love I have for my Savior. So how will I do these things in my insufficiency?

Scripture and Prayer.

To speak truth, I must read truth. If I want to properly share the gospel, I must be saturated in scripture. I must read it and strive to understand it and my every thought must be put to the test with God's Word. I must also pray for God to work in my heart and reveal truth to me. Only God can makes my thoughts and my words worth while. To fulfill my purpose, I must depend entirely on God and come before Him as a vessel dedicated to His use.

After these things, I must simply trust the Holy Spirit living in me to be enough. I cannot guarantee I will always say things perfectly, I will make many mistakes and continue to fear hitting the "publish" button. Yet I think this hesitance is good to an extent. I never ever want to take lightly the things that God has designed, and I think understanding and sharing them is a task that should be taken with seriousness. However, the Bible is full of stories of God investing His awesome message into men who are nowhere near qualified to share it. No human has ever been is worthy of the gospel or eloquent enough to do it justice. Yet God delights in using His weak children to show the strength of the gospel, and I hope He will delight in using me in all my insufficiency.

Finally, I wish to keep my writing pure by encouraging those who read it to be consistently critiquing it. Whether it be the point I am presenting or the way I am presenting it, if I misrepresent what God has said in His Word, I want you to tell me. There is a comment section for a reason! Or, if you are more comfortable, e-mail me or talk to me about it in person. I think I have adequately expressed my desire to properly represent God's Word and I hope you all keep me accountable to that, because that is my goal-- in my writing and my life.

"Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name." - Psalm 86:11

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Child

I  am seventeen years old and at an age where there are a lot of decisions to be made and a lot of changes to occur. To begin, in less than 6 months I will turn 18 and legally be an adult. Yes, I know in actuality there will not be much difference between the day before my birthday and the day after, but the fact that I am growing up is inescapable. Between the college visits and work, it is hard to feel like a child anymore.

With this growing comes changes and choices. I am discovering a fear that I think most kids my age are dealing with: the fear of making the wrong decision. In my mind, I know there is no such thing. Long before I was old enough to know God's specific will for my life, I was told that there is no way to leave it. The design God has for me doesn't depend on a string of right choices. It is wise to listen to God's call, but the Bible isn't extremely specific about what Megan Reece should do with her life. So, as long as it is in line with what God does say in His word, I can make decisions freely and God will bless my ventures. I was taught that, if my desire was to glorify God, I could do that anywhere with anyone.

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice  holy and acceptable to God, which is spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2

As I've gotten older, this has deepened into other areas of life. My mom has been pounding it into my sisters and me that God doesn't have a soul mate lined up for us. We could marry any number of Christian young men and have a long, God-glorifying marriage. In short, as long as God's glory is my goal, He doesn't care what I choose to do.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33

Knowing this, how could I possibly be afraid of making a wrong choice? I was still missing something. My thinking was, "Well, God might be okay if I made this decision, but what if, in doing so, I miss out on something terrific?" I knew I couldn't leave God's will, but I feared it wasn't the best. This lie is based on ignorance of His love. Please don't believe this means I am believing that God's will for me is to give me every desire of my heart and make me happy. I know that isn't true. I will get hurt, broken, and painfully molded and my happiness is not God's goal. But He does love me and His plan is perfect.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fun Facts Friday

1. In general, my music choices are very mainstream and, as my mom says, "teeny-bopper-ish." However, I also appreciate a really good underrated song, and I like that kind of music just as much. Such is the case with "Picture the Sun." Stella Stagecoach is awesome and this song in particular is amazing.
(Check out "What Have I Done" while you're at it :))

2. The "Best Song Ever."



Really weirded out/in love with these count down videos... The first one is especially creepy...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Countering Accusations

A few weeks ago I wrote a post describing my journey to understanding grace. I cannot explain how freeing it is to catch glimpses of God's awesome plan of grace and yet realize we will never be able to fully grasp its greatness. However, soon after that post, the accuser snuk up and has been trying desperately to steal away my freedom. I was confronted with how seriously flawed I am. I felt so guilty for my behavior and  questioned my right to call myself a Christian. It has been a difficult battle trying to sort out these lies being thrown at me, but God has been with me, comforting me and helping me battle it out and see the truth about what he thinks of me.

"My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John 2:1

"No one born of God makes a practice of sinning for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1 John 3:9

I have sins. I have flaws. I fail deeply. But I am being sanctified by Christ who is ridding the entire world of sin! Therefore, I can be confident before the Father, knowing that He is not judging my sins, but Christ's righteousness. In the blood of the lamb I have freedom; I refuse to let that be taken away. I know my actions do not cause God to love me any more or any less, I am already His child. All I can do is confess my failures and ask for His grace to cover and eliminate them. And hope in Christ by abiding in His life, where I find salvation.

" See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we may be called children of God;  and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we will know when it appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure." 1 John 3:1-3

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Graceful

Do you ever start reading a book and feel like it was written just for you?

A few days ago, I started reading the book Graceful: Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life. I am so glad I did. It is not an ordinary Christian book for girls; it does not map out any dating rules, tell you to obey your parents, guide you in how to manage media, or teach you how to be a good Christian girl. This book starts with the good girl. The girl whose followed the rules her whole life. The responsible one with a good image. It takes the good girl and removes her masks. In this book, Emily delves into the many roles girls can play and shows that simply trusting God is much more valuable than having it all together. "Emily Freeman gives young women what they need to be set free on the inside, no matter what is going on outside." 

Why am I so excited about this book? Because it is tying together what I've been trying to figure out for three years. Well, actually, it's not tying anything together. God is doing the tying, He is just using this book. When I was about fourteen years old, I realized something about myself. I wasn't myself! I had built up a reputation for being a good girl, but it was a mask and I could not remove it because I had no idea what I really looked like. "What a long time it can take to become the person one has always been! How often in the process we mask ourselves in faces that are not our own" (Parker J. Palmer). All my life I have been pretty much the same:  kind, sweet, reliable, responsible, innocent. I wore a purity ring, went to church every Sunday, got good grades, obeyed my parents, and worked hard. I've never been beautiful or stunning, but I'm "cute"; the perfect good girl with a pretty smile. For the first fourteen years of my life, I pretty much went with the flow.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fun Facts Friday

1. Shane Harper is a Christian. I read it in World magazine. He listens to Tim Keller sermons. He shared the gospel with Bridget Mendler and now they're dating. Pretty exciting news if you ask me! :D

2. Jumbo coloring pages are the bomb.

3. Sunscreen is always a good  idea because sunburns HURT. And peel.... which is nasty. Why is this information so fresh and prominent in my mind? Well...

4. I love Don't Waste Your Life. I've made significant progress in this book and it is amazing! 

5. The best place to read is poolside. Well I guess it might not be the best place (sunburn...) but it is where I'm doing most of my reading lately and I gotta say I love it.  I am even reading for fun! Something that is almost impossible during the school year. Re-discovering why I named my dog Scout. 
To Kill a Mockingbird

Strawberry French Toast

This is the yummiest breakfast you will ever eat. 

A few weeks ago, my family and I went to the Cafe for Sunday brunch and I ordered strawberry French toast. It was super delicious, but I kinda forgot about it until a few days ago when I caught a glimpse of the people on the Today's Show making French toast. All the yummy memories came back and I decided I HAD to recreate the recipe. I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself!



What does it mean when your dog has better self-control than you do?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Worn

According to John Piper, the key to not wasting your life is gladly making others glad in Christ. "The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ look like the treasure He is" (Don't Waste Your Life). This is my goal in  my un-wasted life: to fulfill my purpose of glorify God and enjoy Him and let others witness it so they may see Christ as a treasure. However, this past week it was an excruciating struggle to complete this goal, because it was very difficult to be glad.

My week did not start smoothly, within two days I was physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually wasted. I envied my hours at home regretting wasting them sleeping, at the same time thinking sleep could not last long enough. It was a challenge just to keep myself from crying when no one was looking. But I forced myself to pull it together, to be glad so that others could be glad. Yet there was no joy in me. I was worn out and useless to everyone.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

First Fun Facts Friday

1. Alliteration. It's fun. As you can tell from the title of this post :)

2. Etc. stands for et cetera. This is probably something I should have already known, but I just figured it out today while reading my College Composition book. Those writing people, they know all the words.

3. Yeah, they know ALL the words. Today I learned about a million (eh, maybe closer to 19...) commonly confused terms. Do you know all the rules for "lay" and "lie"? "Who" and "whom"? "Farther" and "further"? Yeah, I didn't think so!

4. I can make a one eyed smiley face--> .) Sorry, maybe that wasn't necessary, but it is a pretty cool discovery and I may start using it! :)

5. I LOVE the sun roof in my car! I have had my car for 1 1/2 years and have never utilized that window because I was wasn't sure how to close it. But today, listening to this song it opened. This will be the beginning of a beautiful summer!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Summer Plan

JUNE. Summer. Pool side, long walks, tanning, ice cream, zoo, theme park, beach, mowing. Free time.

Summer tunes anyone? Many various styles included :)

Or work. 9-4. Then another job, fitness training, cheer, and studying. Yay? I'm actually going to be busier this summer than I was during the school year. Didn't know that was possible, and it really isn't. I don't think I can physically do all I have planned for the summer... But I might add one more thing to the pile.. Blogging!

I was looking back at my New Year's Resolutions and one of them was to blog once a week which would total 56 blog posts in 2013. I have 8.... So I thought I might want to catch up during the summer! I would like to do three posts a week... not sure how that will go, if I will be able to get them all in, but that is my goal! And to help me with my goal I've made an update  to how I will blog! *drumroll* I am going to try to post one new recipe every Saturday, have a "Fun Facts Friday" where I will just give an update on all the funny little things in my life, and possibly a "What I Ate Wednesday"... depending on how foodie I want my blog to become and how boring I decide posts like that would be :P. I will also continue to post longer thoughts on life and such, like I have been doing, whenever I have thoughts to share! Hopefully I can keep up with this schedule and keep my posts interesting...! Summer here we come!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Holding On and Letting Go ~ The Struggle

The most terrifying thing in the world-- letting go. For the first time in my life I have to wonder instead of know.

You would think millions of miles would have been letting go enough. But it isn't. Physical distance is just a hurdle, emotional distance is a wall. A wall I can't go over, can't go under, can't go around. I can only sit, back leaned up against the wall, and think about this sever. It isn't a bad thing, it is natural, good. So why do I hate it? Am I just selfish? Is it that I don't want to be forgotten? or do I really genuinely care about them and miss THEM?

It is too hard to decipher. All I know is that it is scary. It is unknown. I don't like it.

Letting go begs the question... If I let go, will I ever be able to grab back on? Or will they walk so far away I will never see them again?

These questions are scary, especially when the answer is that they will walk away. There are things I will never know. But, for those who follow God, who walk in His spirit, we are never far off. Distance, time, whatever the barrier, we are on the same road with the same goal. There can never be a complete sever for those seeking Christ and His Kingdom. Even though we can't always walk together and have walls that seem to separate us, we have the same destination.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Why Do I Run?

Last night I had a disappointment.  I missed going to state by one step. I came in second in my 800 by six hundredths of a second. It was discouraging...  It was probably the best chance I had out of my whole high school  track career, and I missed it by .06 seconds. First, I wanted to cry... I had those regrets, I knew I could have done something to make my foot first across the finish line. I replayed the last 50 yards in my head, trying to pinpoint the flaw in my technique that caused me to fail. Fail. That is what I was tempted to believe. I missed my chance and let down my  team, coaches, parents,and myself. Then I realized what I'd actually done. I ran 3 seconds faster than I had all year, beating my personal best and the school record. I ran my race harder than I've ever run before, and my time showed it. If I had run my usual time, I wouldn't have even been second. I would have come in fifth or something.

My coach had me run an easy 20-30 minutes today just in case my time is in the top twelve of the 1A 800 runners who didn't win their heat and I am still able to go to state. During that run I was able to reflect and ask myself why I run.

Before track season, I read this book, Running Dream, about an amazing 400 runner who loses her leg in a car accident. It was really inspiring and has completely changed how I run. It also made me paranoid for a while that I would lose my leg and never run again... :/ ANYWAY. In this book, the main character, Jessica, is asked whether she loves running or racing. Jessica and I both never considered this question.  Then track season came and I claimed racing. The 800 is so much more than running fast, it is how you run the race. Sprinting the first hundred to seal your spot in the front, pacing your first lap, knowing your competition and what kind of kick they have. It is so unlike running on your own. Nonetheless, today I had to reconsider my answer to Running Dream's question.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Time!

Spring is finally here! I celebrated Sunday with a long walk and ice cream with my sister. Yes. Summer, you are welcome whenever.

But... First we must finish school... Study music anyone? 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thoughts on Purity

WARNING: This post is honest. The little homeschooled voice inside me is telling me not to talk about this cause it's too awkward. Purity? Ah! Leave that to the married mother of ten on the outside looking in! But here is where my heart is wrestling on this issue, so give me grace and give me your insights, I would love to hear from you!

Purity. A word that has been in my vocabulary as long as I can remember. As ever present in my mind as the "purity ring" on my finger. I am learning what it might actually mean-- beyond the taboo and courtship rules-- only recently.

It must capture more than merely my body. More than his body. Purity must overcome more than sex-- It overcomes sight.

It means seeing those of opposite gender for who they really are as children of God.

This man whose hand you long to hold is so much more than a masculine figure to lead you down the sidewalk. He is a spiritual leader navigating life for himself and for his future wife. More than a broad chest to lean upon, he is a human of broad interests who needs you to lean into that with intention and understanding. Instead of just lips to lovingly kiss your forehead, he is a heart being touched by the grace of God every day.

Know him fully. Not just his manhood, but his sonship.

One day at the proper time you may be blessed with being able to hold his hand or rest your head on his shoulder. Physical attraction lived out in healthy ways can definitely be God-honoring. And that ultimate physical intimacy reserved only for marriage is one of the most beautiful pictures of unity and the love of Christ and the church this world can offer. It is such a good gift. But all these things come second to seeing him better. Second to seeing him as more than just his physical attributes.

Purity is not the absence of sex drive. It is not looking away and paying penance for our sin. It is looking better. It is letting God speak into our vision of the person before us, borrowing the gaze of this man's creator and redeemer. Truly seeing is putting away your self-interest to really see that person of God for who they are.


"I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness." -- Isaiah 61:10

"Glorify God with me; let us exalt his name together." -- Psalm 34:3

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Track and Cupcakes!


It's track season! Yaaaaaaaaaay! My favorite time of year! I even got cute sweatpants! I've envied these sweatpants for years, it seems like everyone at ICA has them. Most of whom don't do track... And I had nothing to show for my 4 years of dedicated, complaint-free participation. But now I have snazzy sweatpants to show off! And show them off I will... Look at my sweatpants!












Saturday, March 16, 2013

Gleaning Wisdom

John Piper is a pretty smart guy. Yeah, I know, the rest of the world figured that out a while ago, but I'm coming to realize how right they are only recently. Probably because I had never really read any of his books before this month. I started his book "Think" a while ago; emphasis on started. It was a book about using our intellects to glorify God and I gave up trying to understand it about half way through. I decided I couldn't read Piper he was too smart. Then my CollegePlus coach recommended I read "Don't Waste Your Life" and I think I will stay with him this time. The thing I most admire about Piper is his life goal in enjoying the glory of Christ. It is so encouraging. I'm also noticing that Piper, a man I am learning from, admires C.S. Lewis and learns from him! Amazing how God gives everyone, no matter how wise and experienced they are, someone wiser and more experienced than them to teach them! Just goes to prove that all our wisdom comes from God in the first place and it is only by His grace that we are able to teach others.

So anyway, here is an article by Piper my Mom gave me over a year ago that I've held onto. It was a little concerning when she handed me an article titled "Letter to an Incomplete, Insecure Teenager" out of the blue, but I am thankful she did, because it is very insightful.

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/letter-to-an-incomplete-insecure-teenager

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Doing Your Best

Do your best. What an overused phrase. What does it even mean? I have actually been putting a seemingly significant amount of thought into this phrase over the past year. You'd be surprised at how much inner conflict I have been experiencing because of these words.

This phrase seems to be thrown out at every nervous test-taker, athlete, employee, you name it. It just sounds like a good encouragement, "Don't worry about your score, just, you know, do your best." I'm reminded of the P90X motto, "Do your best and forget the rest." But... your "best" isn't really measurable. I suppose that is why it is such an appealing concept, it is just kind of something you work towards, no one can tell you you didn't reach your personal "best." Yet its unmeasurability bothers me beyond expression. For the longest time I thought my best was almost unachievable. If  I didn't win a race in track and someone tried to comforting me with, "Well, you did your best," in my mind I would say back , "No, not really. I could have trained harder... ran extra laps at practice, ate healthier, got more sleep, I could have done something to get closer to my truly best." I never felt like I put in all I could to get the best time. Before the race or during. The brutal truth is you always recover from a race. Those minutes when you finally get your breath back and your legs stop feeling like jello are the most regret filled minutes of the experience. You have that gnawing feeling that you should have pushed it harder on that final stretch. Sure, it felt like you were wasted while you were facing that head wind, but now you have energy again, you aren't as spent as you remember. 

These aren't just feelings associated with track. In every area I can probably work a little harder. The encouragement of just "doing your best" has turned into an impossible mission to reach my absolute potential, find my "best." Honestly, I don't think I've reached the point where I can do my best, as a runner, student, friend, daughter, or sister. I could work a lot harder in every area of my life. So does that mean I should? Should I spend every waking hour of the rest of my life trying to reach that goal of my "best"? Sorry, but that doesn't sound very fun. I don't think my life would be its "best" if that was how I was living it. So what do we do when this phrase is thrown around? 

The first thing is not to be afraid of doing our best. I know this seems weird seeing as I just dissected and discarded the worth of this phrase, but bear with me. Tonight an elder from my church talked to the youth group and told us if he could tell his younger self anything it would be not to be afraid of doing his best. He said we often fear putting forth our maximum effort because, what happens if we do our best and our best isn't good enough? How do we deal with that? If you don't feel the catastrophic effect of that idea, go back and read it again because that should put some amount of fear into every ego. If we never do our best we can't really fail, because we didn't really try. If we don't come in first it isn't because we weren't good enough, it was because we chose not to be good enough. There is security in never trying to reach full potential, if we never reach we never fall when we aren't tall enough. 

The next thing Mr. Jackson said was, "The effort is ours, the result is God's." Can this phrase just replace "Do your best"? It shouldn't be our best we're focused on anyway; I have been born again into Christ, He is where I find my identity. I don't find my value in the allusive "best I can be" but in Christ. He is the best! He is enough! He is my identity! Yes, I can work harder and, if I do, I will become better. However, I will exhaust myself trying to reach my absolute "best." Rather, I should work not be afraid of my best failing and know that Christ's sufficiency will catch me when I don't reach the standards. All I can do is put forth effort and trust God to bring the right results. Results shaped out of the sincere love of a father who knows the plans He has for me go beyond getting an A on a test and winning a race.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Beauty

A few nights ago my friend and I took a walk with our dogs. We were gone for about two hours and it was one of the best spent two hours of the week. One of the subjects we covered was beauty and what it means to be beautiful. Every time I talk to Emily about this she gives me a much deeper understanding of what beauty really means.

It seems like an ever-present question on girls' minds: what is beauty? It is defined so many ways by so many people; unfortunately, most girls borrow their definition from TV and Pinterest where skinny bodies, clear skin, gorgeous hair, and being followed by men is beautiful. Whether we want it to or not, this definition of beauty has influenced how we see ourselves and others. I am no exception, I am constantly comparing myself to other girls and am painfully aware of my weight and the effect of food on my weight. These kind of thoughts push a lot of girls into unhealthy behavior; both the thoughts and the behavior become addicting. Thankfully, I have a good friend who whips me back to the truth whenever I get too far into these thoughts rather than God's. What she says and how she lives is beneficial to all girls and women.

Before a few weeks ago I did not believe confidence could be beautiful. I had it ingrained into my head that to follow God's call to humility, you had to think yourself ugly and incompetent. Disliking yourself was how you put others ahead. Emily let me know how wrong I was. By hating myself, I was hating God's creation and putting myself on a path to hating His other creations. The thing about finding flaws in yourself is that you will begin to find flaws in other things or grow contempt for the things that don't have flaws. God showed me how truly unhumble I have been. The effort it took to hate myself was effort spent only on me, not on working to meet the needs of others. Instead He has given me two beautiful and confident role models as best friends. 

Emily and Julia are both beautiful, and they both know it. In the One Direction song, "What Makes You Beautiful", beauty is portrayed as not knowing your beauty, these girls showed me how wrong that is. Neither one of these ladies goes around bragging about how beautiful and funny they are. They don't think they are better than everyone else, they are simply comfortable in their own skin. They acknowledge that God made them and called them good (Genesis 1). They simply have confidence. This may be an area where my written words are less sufficient than if I were talking to you verbally, because I think you really just need to spend a day with these girls to see how well they have balanced confidence and humility so that they can serve others instead of wasting time hating something beautiful. 

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less." - C.S. Lewis

"I praise you because I am FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." -Psalm 139:14